People frequently experience gut feelings—those unconscious proddings that compel us to do things without knowing exactly why, or that subtle knowledge with no rational explanation of how we know it. Those feelings are rooted in our intuition. Despite the significant role it plays in our day-to-day lives, its nature is difficult to put into words. We all just intuitively understand what intuition is!
The definition of intuition has eluded humanity for a long time. It’s inspired centuries of inquiry and research in the fields of psychology and philosophy. It’s different from analysis, logic, or thinking. And it always actively reads situations and attempts to steer us in the right direction, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Intuition is an important component of how we relate to our environment, and ultimately, how we make a lot of decisions.
Here are ten things you can do to get in closer touch with your intuition and intentionally put it to work for you:
- Listen to your inner voice.
It’s easy to disregard intuitive impressions. But intuition a powerful ability that can be exercised and honed. You can learn to listen to the guidance of your intuition and stop ignoring your gut feelings.
Everybody has some level of connection to their intuition, but many people consciously choose not to pay attention to it. To make our optimal decisions, we need to seek a balance between our rational thinking and our intuition. But since our culture is biased against heeding our intuition, we’re socially pressured to disregard our gut instincts, which often leads to harm.
Logic and science don’t need to be rejected in favor of intuition. We can seek balance by honoring and calling upon all these attributes. This balance will urge all of our brains’ resources into action.
- Spend time by yourself.
Intentionally spending time alone is an effective way to access and encourage your intuition. Solitude stimulates creative thinking, helps you tap into your deep source of inner wisdom, engages you in profound thought, and restores your connection to your true self.
- Be creative.
Creativity performs best when it’s allowed to function intuitively. Intuitive people tend to be highly creative. Just as it’s possible to improve your creativity by practicing, you can increase your intuition by using it. Exercising one builds up the other.
- Be mindful.
Being more mindful—that is, non-judgmentally focusing more attention on your current experience—helps us understand our personalities more clearly. Meditation and other mindfulness practices are effective ways to access your intuition, filter out mental chatter, weigh your options objectively, tune into your intuition, and ultimately make confident decisions.
Mindfulness also bonds you with your intuition by increasing self-knowledge. Heightened peace, creativity, compassion, and intuition are all constructive side effects of mindfulness.
- Observe more closely.
Notice when coincidences and strange things happen. It may help to track them in a journal. This will give you a clearer sense of how often you experience connections, surprising coincidences, and on-the-dot intuitions and help you start intentionally tapping into your intuition.
- Listen to your body.
Intuitive people are tuned into their bodies and have learned to take their “gut feelings” to heart.
Have you ever felt nauseous when you knew that something was wrong, but couldn’t pinpoint just what was up? If you have, you know that intuitions can generate physical sensations. “Gut feelings” have that name for a reason: research has shown that both intuition and emotions are rooted in our “second brains” in our guts.
- Connect deeper with others.
Mind-reading may sound like fantasy, but it’s something we regularly do. Its psychological term, “empathic accuracy,” refers to its seemingly inexplicable ability to map somebody else’s mental state based on their emotions, words, and body language.
As an example, when you see an insect crawling on someone else’s skin, you also feel a creeping sensation. Or, when you see someone reach out to a friend but get pushed away, you cringe in sympathy at the rejection. And when you watch your favorite sports team on television and they win a big game, you feel their emotions too, as though you were there. Social emotions like lust, disgust, embarrassment, pride, shame, and guilt can all be felt simply by observing others experience them.
Focusing on your emotions and listening to and observing others, can give your intuitive powers a boost.
- Pay attention to your dreams.
Dreams and intuition both spring from the intuitive part of your mind, so paying attention to your dreams can help you tap into your intuition and get in touch with your mind’s unconscious processes.
When you dream, you receive information from your subconscious. If you’re tuned into your dreams, you can glean a lot of helpful information regarding how to go about your life.
- Take plenty of downtime.
Our intuition constantly communicates with us, but we’re often too preoccupied to notice. The perpetual multitasking, busyness, digital connectivity, and stresses of modern life mentally wear us down and stifle our intuition. We constantly get intuitive impressions about the people around us, but we generally aren’t aware enough of our intuition to notice. We’re simply too distracted.
- Release negative emotions.
When you’re depressed, angry, or in a heightened emotional state, you may find your intuition fails you completely. Strong emotions, especially negative ones, have the power to obscure our intuition. Many of us feel out of sorts, or just don’t feel like ourselves, when we get upset. This may be due to our emotions disconnect us from our intuition.
This is not to imply that intuitive people don’t ever get upset. They certainly do! But intuition functions better if you can mindfully accept and release negative emotions rather than suppressing them or obsessing over them.